Town OK with facility at U.S. 17-264 junction

Published 10:02 am Thursday, August 12, 2010

Staff Writer

BELHAVEN — In a unanimous vote, the Town Council adopted a resolution that supports locating a rest stop/visitors center at the county’s seat to help the local economy.
Councilman Nelson Guy made the motion to adopt the resolution calling for a rest stop/visitors center to be located adjacent to the intersection of U.S. Highways 17 and 264 in Washington. Councilman Robert Stanley seconded the motion.
The vote reflects the town’s realization that Beaufort County is served by two major highways — U.S. 17 and U.S. 264, which passes through the town.
Julian Goff, representing the Belhaven Community Chamber of Commerce, asked the council to support locating a rest stop/visitors center near the junction of U.S. 17 and U.S. 264 at Washington. Goff believes the complex would help promote Belhaven as a destination.
Councilman McKee “Mac” Pigott Jr. said the two highways are utilized by the majority of travelers entering and leaving Beaufort County from every direction.
The resolution reads: “The actual traffic count around the City of Washington is nearly identical for these two highways: 19,000 to 21,000 vehicles per day.”
The resolution continues: “The intersection of these two highways is the most important junction in Beaufort County and a rest stop/visitors center would promote maximum potential to promote the county and enhance the economic development of the county as a whole, as well as surrounding areas.”
Councilman Steve Carawan asked Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson if he was pushing for the proposed rest area in Chocowinity or the one in discussion at the council’s meeting Monday.
“Commissioners as a whole, (the) majority of them voted to push for the visitors center at rest-stop installments in Chocowinity,” Richardson said. “I support putting where you’re talking about putting one and not having one south of Washington. And I think most of the town and most of that intersection serves all of it. Personally, I support what you guys are doing.”
Pigott said he believes putting a rest stop south of Washington would cut into the city’s economy, serving as a deterrent and preventing people from stopping in Washington and boosting the city’s economy.
“I think a rest area south of Washington would keep folks from stopping in Washington,” he said, with Richardson agreeing.
Carawan said Belhaven is hoping for support from neighboring Hyde County in regard to the location of the rest stop/visitors center, noting that Hyde County is served by U.S. 264, too.
“The area near where Highway(s) U.S. 17 and 264 intersect would be a good spot,” Richardson said. “So, it could be placed in or very near that. But there’s plenty of land around the intersection that you really don’t have to do that. But my opinion is to combine the rest stop with the visitors center for both, and put it up there at that intersection. That way it will benefit everybody.”